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Dupkata (the Hole) protected site

The Dupkata protected site has an area of 6.5 ha. It was established with Order No:RD-328 of 08.05.1992 by the Ministry of the Environment and Water. The Dupkata protected site is immediately above the town of Ivaylovgrad and includes a natural landmark, a precipice cave.. In a relatively small space a mosaic of drought-loving vegetation grows on a limy terrain – a mixed sucker deciduous forest of Oriental hornbeam (Carpinus orienalis), flowering-ash (Fraxinus ornus), hairy oak (Quercus pubescens), shrubs of the same species and red juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus), thorny bush (Paliurus spina-christii), turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus), jasmine (Jasminum fruticans), small scented grass glens (Chrysopogon gryllus), wallis fescue (Festuca valesiaca), feather grass (Stipa capillata), the Stipa pulcherrima, bread-grass (Dichantium ischaemum) as well as a rich diversity including Mediterranean species, aromatic grasses, and semi-bushes. Part of the territory has been planted with black pine (Pinus nigra). The flora is abundant and includes over 350 species. The species included in Bulgaria’s Red Book are more than 10: Thracian wild wheat (Aegilops spaltoides), single flowered horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis unisiliquosa), hare’s-ear (Bupleurum flavum), small hare's-ear (Bupleurum baldense), southern shepherd's needle (Scandix australis), the Micropyrum tenellum, the Pallenis spinosa, restharrow (Ononis adenotricha) and the orchids, violet limodore (Limodorum abortivum) and butterfly orchid (Orchis papilionacea). Here 13 other orchid species can be found, of which the bee orchid and the spider orchid (Ophrys cornuta, Ophrys mammosa), the Himantoglossum carpinum, and the pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) are protected. Balkans endemites are numerous: sanfoins (Onobrychis degenii), thyme (Thymus atticus), Mediterranean woundwort (Stachys cretica ssp. bulgarica), wood betony (Stachys leucoglossa), Thracian flax (Linum thracicum), yarrow (Achillea clypeolata) etc.

Characteristic representatives of the herpetofauna are the crested newt (Triturus cristatus), the Crimean lizard (Podarcis taurica), the green lizard (Lacerta viridis), the blotched snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata sauromates), and the Caspian whipsnake (Coluber caspius). Of the birds, here we can find the whitethroat (Sylvia communis), the oriole (Oriolus oriolus), the Eastern olivaceous warbler (Hippolais pallida) etc. In the Dupkata cave, which is within the protected site, 4 bat species have been registered - the greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), the smaller horseshoe bat (Rh. euryale), and the common bent-wing bat (Miniopterus schreibersii). Probably in the past they had formed a large colony but now due to the frequent disturbance the cave is inhabited by single individuals only.

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